Do you know how to get kids really excited about healthy food? Elena Greenberg, a FoodCorps Service Member with the Prescott Farmers Market knows how: give them a space to garden and grow their own food; sample, prepare and enjoy freshly harvested produce together with them; and increase their access to nutritious meals at school!
Since starting her service work in 2015, Elena has been busy building and expanding gardens at Granite Mountain and Lincoln schools; has sliced, roasted, blended and sautéed hundreds of pounds of produce with kids in schools and at the Prescott Farmers Market; and has happily watched local kids give a ‘thumbs up’ after sampling slices of fresh produce, including carrots, tomatoes, spinach, kohlrabi and even turnips! Elena also works with schools, farms and community members to facilitate using local produce in cafeteria meals and brings interactive and engaging nutrition education into classrooms.
Elena has many wonderful stories to tell about the work she has done with local kids. “One of my fondest and silliest memories of my first year with FoodCorps was during a cafeteria taste test. We were serving up local spinach from Aguiar Farms to students at Taylor Hicks Elementary School and everyone was loving it! This little boy named Austin was so eager to try his spinach that he scooped it off his plate with his hands and went for the first bite — and ended up biting his finger instead. Poor Austin needed a Band-aid, and while the cafeteria staff was putting it on his finger, he turned to me and said, ‘well, it’s good to try new things, right’? This moment sets a good example for anyone who is scared of trying new things because this little boy tried and failed at eating spinach on the first attempt — but remained positive and wanted to try again”.
The mission of FoodCorps is ‘to connect kids with healthy food in school, so they can lead healthier lives and reach their full potential’, and Elena is passionate about her service work. She sums up what she really values about her FoodCorps experience: “I’ve had a lot of those ‘Austin moments’ during my FoodCorps service, but it’s easy to get discouraged and downplay the successes. One thing that I’ve learned to value the most is my individual interactions with the students. Each and every one of these little humans is currently shaping and sculpting their worldview, so I try to make my interactions with them as positive and full of smiles as possible. These kids are all so special to me and their personal value reaches way beyond the physical amount of accomplishments that I can quantify. I feel like my work is successful when my students whisper “goodnight” to the baby lettuce that their planting in the garden or tell me that garden club is their favorite and that they can’t wait to see me again. Growing healthy and happy children is what my job is all about.”
FoodCorps is part of AmeriCorp, which connects public service-minded adults of all ages with a variety of nonprofit, faith-based and/or community organizations across the country. Over 75,000 AmeriCorps members engage in important, intensive community service work across the country each year. To learn more about FoodCorps, see their website at foodcorps.org, or contact Elena directly using this email. You can also visit with Elena many Saturdays in the Education Booth at the Prescott Farmers Market, and don’t forget to check out her recent visit to Your Healthy Kitchen!